Cabinet: 'Fruitful' talks on Mboweni's growth plan

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. (Conrad Bornman, Gallo Images, Rapport)
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. (Conrad Bornman, Gallo Images, Rapport)

Cabinet is discussing Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's economic plan to ignite growth, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said.

The minister was briefing journalists on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting held earlier this week.

The deadline for public submissions on the economic policy plan – which is still a discussion paper and not finalised policy – was on September 15. The 77-page document includes proposals that promise to boost growth by 3% and create more jobs.

"That document is now before Cabinet as we speak. Cabinet is engaging, [having] very fruitful discussions," Mthembu commented.

"Over 700 inputs and interventions were made by South Africans – groupings, individuals and academics, to enhance the document," Mthembu said. "South Africans have made very impressive recommendations to the document," he added.

Mthembu said that Cabinet, through the finance minister, will say how to move forward once all discussions are wrapped up.

"It is too early to say what will be the outcome of the process," he said in response to a question about how the process will unfold following the discussion stage.

"It is up to Cabinet on how to take the process forward. At this point we are not there, we are at the discussion phase. [I] can't say what Cabinet's decision will be," he said.

The outcomes would be informed by the inputs that are considered and the discussions by Cabinet, he reiterated.

In its submission, trade union federation Cosatu criticised the proposals, including the proposed exemption for SMMEs from paying workers the national minimum wage. It also contended that the plan will create fewer jobs than forecast, while increasing uncertainty. Cosatu slated the plans for Eskom as privatisation "through the back door by auctioning its coal assets".

Speaking at a conference earlier this week, Mboweni said that Cosatu's opposition to the plan is probably because the federation had not yet engaged with the content of the document, Bloomberg reported.

He also told the conference that fixing state-owned enterprise Eskom is integral to the growth plan, as is focussing on sectors of growth such as agriculture and manufacturing.

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